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Vienna Through Old Photos

Historic Vienna Inc. uses new museum space at the Freeman House for its latest exhibit.

If a Vienna citizen has ever wondered how the town looked in the mid-1800s, that person now has the chance. Starting this Saturday, July 10, photographs and artifacts from that period and onward will be on display at the Freeman House at 131 Church St., N.E.

The exhibit, "Vienna Remembered: Civil War Scenes and Freeman Family History," created by Historic Vienna Inc. (HVI), is the first exhibit to use the Freeman House's new museum room.

"We really look forward to sharing the things with the people of Vienna," said Daphne Sloan, HVI board member and museum committee member.

"Vienna Remembered" uses photographs and artifacts owned by HVI or donated by local residents. One half of the exhibit features photographs of the Freeman and Lydecker families from the late 1800s to the early 1900s, while the other half contains images and documents about Civil War skirmishes that occurred in and around Vienna.

"You really see that [the Freeman House], in addition to being a store and a post office, was once a home," said HVI board member and museum committee member Maud Robinson, referring to past functions of the historic building.

Although the museum committee began setting up the exhibit about six weeks ago, the idea to use space on the second floor of the Freeman House as a museum room had been discussed for several years.

When HVI finished preparing the second floor room for an exhibit, the museum committee began assembling the artifacts. After this exhibit, which will open to the public on July 10 and run for three months, HVI board members hope to have rotating exhibits throughout the year.

"I'd just invite you to come and see it, and enjoy each one we have. We're very excited about it, and we hope to have good input," Sloan said.

The creation of the exhibition space is part of ongoing efforts to organize HVI's resources. Other efforts have included making a complete inventory of all its photographs and better reserving the originals. HVI has scanned all of its photographs into the computer, saving the originals in acid-free boxes to prevent deterioration.

The inventory helped when the museum committee was deciding what images to use for the exhibit.

"It's an organized resource for photographic documentation, so that's great," said HVI historic administrator Paul Snodgrass.

Snodgrass added that with the inventory, groups and citizens could approach HVI for images of Vienna during specific time periods, like Maple Avenue in 1910, or Leon Freeman's father.

For the photographs that have not been identified, HVI plans to ask longtime residents for their help.

"It's all part of acquainting people with the fact that Vienna has had an interesting past," Robinson said, mentioning that the majority of communities in Fairfax County were built after World War II. "The more that people appreciate the past community, the more it bodes well for the future. ... It's very important for children to get a sense of roots."